eCite Digital Repository

Invisible (women’s) bodies


Toffoletti, K and Palmer, C, Invisible (women's) bodies, Routledge Handbook of Physical Cultural Studies, Routledge, M Silk, D Andrews and, H Thorpe (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 286-294. ISBN 9781138817210 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Michael L. Silk, David L. Andrews and Holly Thorpe

Official URL:


This chapter approaches the issue of invisible bodies in physical cultural studies debates by considering Muslim women's experiences of sport. A number of feminist scholars have iden­tified the invisibility of Muslim women in wider discussions about women's participation in sport and exercise and have sought to illuminate the plurality of Muslim women as a social category as well as the socio-cultural, political and geographic contexts that shape Muslim women's embodied experiences of physical activity (Benn, Pfister and Jawad, 2011; Hargreaves, 2007; Kay, 2006; Pfister, 2003; Walseth, 2006a, 2006b). Existing literature primarily perceives and responds to barriers and enablers to Muslim women's participation as players of sport, with less emphasis placed on leisure and recreational expressions of active embodiment (for instance, sports fandom). The current orientation of studies concerning Muslim women's active partici­pation in organized sport and fitness largely conforms to social inclusion paradigms, where marginalized groups and individuals are incorporated into mainstream culture as players of, or active participants in, organized sport (Walseth and Fasting, 2004).

In this chapter we offer an alternative approach to Muslim women's experiences of physi­cal activity and leisure beyond the commonplace deficit model of participation (Knez, Macdonald and Abbott, 2012: 109). Central to our discussion is an interrogation of the dynam­ics of power that frame Muslim women through a deficit lens, and advocates for more research that is attentive to the complex tensions, pleasures and contradictions that shape Muslim women's encounters with various domains of physical culture. We suggest that a PCS approach, by extending the parameters of how we conceive active embodiment, can bring Muslim women into view (beyond the dominant, yet limited, framing of them in terms of sport partici­pation) to encompass the varied ways they experience their own bodies in motion and other active bodies they encounter across a range of sites. At the conclusion of this chapter we reflect on our own research on media representations, active experiences and fan practices to illustrate this point.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:Muslim women, sport participation, social inclusion
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Gender studies
Research Field:Gender relations
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Gender and sexualities
UTAS Author:Palmer, C (Professor Catherine Palmer)
ID Code:112057
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-10-25
Last Modified:2018-04-12

Repository Staff Only: item control page